Published 13 May 2020 By Ayanda Mdluli
The media is under threat – from tightened purse strings, shrinking newsrooms and reduced magazine pages to the ever-declining readership as jaded audiences switch to news streams they trust (like social media), or simply switch off.
In effect, the media itself is a threat to its future. This is borne out on the pages and on the screens of publishers across the world, with South Africa having had its fair share of “narrative fixing”. The use of media to shape particular narratives to achieve desired outcomes is an age-old profession, and it looks like it will remain a well-subscribed one for years to come. This was evidenced, yet again, by the sterling piece of propaganda that landed in my inbox (forwarded by a colleague) yesterday morning.
Propaganda, for those who need reminding, is a persuasive technique largely using media channels to convey information that provokes an emotional response in the reader, and which then achieves a particular outcome or agenda. The art of persuasion.
Shout loudly enough from the ramparts and tell a lie enough times, and it starts to sound like the truth. History has enough examples for us to be have learned from, but because life gets busy and time moves on, we soften and forget what happened until, bang, it appears right before our eyes again.
While I have written several pieces this year about the tactics of some of my colleagues in the media, sometimes all it takes is a small event to truly bring things into focus. That was yesterday’s Daily Maverick article, courtesy of the sting in the tail Scorpio division, about the e-Learning contract in the Eastern Cape that will give students the ability to actually learn something.
Instead of focusing on the dire plight of education across this country and looking into what this contract will actually mean to the people of the Eastern Cape, the author (Pieter-Louis Myburgh) chose to head his so-called “investigative, public-service journalism” piece with a title designed only to capture eyeballs in the digital realm.
Use Iqbal Survé’s name enough times in headlines and opening paragraphs for search engines to pick up on, and any publisher would reap the benefit of additional eyeballs. Because, let’s face it, this is exactly what is going on here, along with a clearly orchestrated battle campaign to annihilate the doctor and his businesses and all their employees by casting enough doubt out there to persuade people of a different “truth”.
Please read the full article here.